Hey it’s been a long time since I’ve posted regularly on Ye Olde Blogge®. Partially it’s because now that I’ve achieved Total and Complete Domination of Social Media™ I spend most of my time posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Myspace. Also, I write a monthly recap for my Patreon supporters (hint hint) and that takes up a lot of what was once known as My Blogging Energy®.
That said, we all know how sinister Social Media is, and how inescapable Corporate Culture™ is nowadays... so I would like to focus more energy here going forward. I know Blooger is a wholly owned subsidiary of some Mega-Corp or another, but at least this is something with my name on it and there’s no ads...
So without further ado, here’s my report from the Autoptic Festival , which I attended this last weekend in Minneapolis.
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I have to admit I’m burned out on shows. I’m burned out on a lot of things (watch for upcoming Blogge Posts on this subject), but I’m burned out on shows. It used to be that after a weekend of traveling, tabling, dehydration, not eating well, and not sleeping well, I felt awful, and it took me sometimes close to a week to recover. Nowadays I feel that way before I leave for a show. Also, after two decades of utter chaos and upheaval, I’m in love with my current domesticated, backyardish life, and I’m usually loathe to leave even for short trips of a few days.
Prior to leaving for Minneapolis, though, I’d been fried out by several months of six-and-a-half day workweeks at the distro and I was kinda looking forward to seeing friends. Plus, Minneapolis in the summertime is never a bad idea. So off I went.
| View from atop the lookout.
Traffic was bad through the Dells, as usual, but then it opened up into some of the prettiest interstate driving in the Midwest. I stopped at a rest area I’d never visited before, that promised a "scenic overlook." Sure enough, across the parking lot was a nicely maintained path into the trees. It wound up a hillside, onto a meandering boardwalk that spanned some nice gullies, and out onto a platform. The view was beautiful, with hills and woodland green spreading out to the horizon. I took some deep breaths and headed back down. I had to be in Minneapolis that evening for a panel discussion.
I was hungry and tired, and looking for a Burger King (don’t judge me), and finally found one across the river in Minnesota. I parked and went in. It was grimy and dark. A few lonely people milled about at tables, nursing coffees. At the counter, ordering problems ensued, and the guy couldn’t get the register open to make change ; they made my gluten free burger with a bun, then they gave me a burger with no vegetables or condiments. When the guy was unable to give me a receipt I felt so sad that I couldn’t even broach the subject with him.* The staff was clearly unhappy with each other, the management was bugging people about extra shifts etc etc. As I ate, I thought "Is this the World’s Saddest Burger King ?" I had my phone out and was about to tweet that, when a young woman and three little kids came in, bought frozen Cokes and proceeded to run into the Indoor PlayGround, laughing and smiling. No way it could be the World’s Saddest anything anymore. So I put my phone away.**
A few minutes later I was in town, pulling up at Moon Palace Books , where Autoptic events were being held. Lots of Comix-looking people milled about, and one of the panels was in progress when I arrived. Soon it was time for me to get up there. It was a panel on "Destigmatizing Vulnerability in Comics," hosted by Aaron King , with Sage Coffey , Alexis Cooke , and me. It went well. Afterwards people hung out in the bookstore café talking about comics, salami, and exhaustion.
| Vulnerability panel. Photo byMelanie Gillman.
That night I stayed with Uncivilized publisher Jordan, his wife Jess, and Shoe the Cat. BFF Ben Sears was there too. We stayed up late talking about My Bloody Valentine and Gluyas Williams . Then off to Dreamland.
In the morning I drove Ben to the Autoptic venue. When we got there he realized he’d left a box of books back at Jordan’s. He apologized profusely, but I assured him it was no big deal, and we headed back. On the way, he kept apologizing and beating himself up over it. Ironically, we had earlier been discussing whether Louisville (where he’s from, and still lives) is the Midwest or not . I have to say, after his impressive display of self-deprecation and apologetics, even if it’s not, I hereby ordain him an Honorary Midwesterner. (Sorry !)
Anyhow, we went in and did the show. Autoptic is in an amazing space , some kind of massive vaulted former warehouse. In that way alone it feels very different than most comics shows. It doesn’t feel claustrophobic or oppressive. It also attracts a slightly different crowd than your average comics con. There were a lot of older people attending, as well as families and groups of friends. A number of people came to my table and told me they had just happened to be in town for the weekend and saw the show listed in the paper, and decided to check it out. So there was a kind of openness and curiosity to the attendees that I usually only feel at a zine show. (It should be noted, Autoptic has a somewhat larger scope that just a "comics show," featuring zines, printmaking, and other small press publications as well.)
| Ye Olde Spit and a Half table.
I was located between my old buddies Kevin H. and Zak Sally , so it was nice to get to hang during the show and make fun of each other etc. I had a great time tabling, even though I had the usual con-related dehydration and blood sugar problems (nobody’s fault but my own, folks !). In the afternoon I moseyed on over to a nearby Whole Foods and got something hot and non-sugary to eat and then it was smooth sailing through the end. All in all, sales were wonderful, I saw a bunch of old friends, met a bunch of new ones, and got to pick up some awesome comics.
| Help ! I’m trapped inside a comics festival with no protein !
Afterwards a group of us walked over the bridge to the official restaurant/afterparty location. I shared a table with Gabrielle Bell , Hannah and Anna from Philly , Jesse McManus , Zak, Ben, Iona Fox , and Kevin. Wow. I kinda hate comics sometimes, but I love cartoonists ! God Bless ’Em All.
After having a lengthy discussion with Gabrielle about spontaneous kundalini awakening, and a mutual apology session with Nick Drnaso , and chatting with Ted Intorcio , and eating a few of Aaron Renier ’s gigantic Potato Chips, it was time to go.
| Aaron Renier illustrates the Wisconsin Food Pyramid : Beer and something deep-fried.
Zak and I met up at his house where I was leapt upon by the bundle of nervous, unbridled energy known as Polly the Dog, or as I came to call her, Lynette. We stayed up til 2 AM talking about drugs, Buddhism, relationships, money, noise, dogs, and life. I had the choice of either the couch or Zak’s son’s bed. It was determined that if I chose the bed, Polly could join me. So I got in bed, slapped the sheets and exchanged slobbery dog kisses for belly-rubs all night long.
| Miss Lynette "Da Lovebug" Sally.
And there you have it, kids : comics will break your heart, but they’ll also lead to lifelong friendships, big laughs, and, possibly, tongue baths.
Next morning — coffee, gas, and on the road. Through rain so intense outside of Madison that I ended up on an off-ramp because the roadsigns were unreadable. It was slow going, but I was home. Gibby gave me jazz hands and Iris snorked my arm... I took a shower to wash the road off of me, and got into bed. I turn fifty in three weeks.
*Cartoonists and Comics Industry Peeps : Always, ALWAYS, get your receipts and write this shit off your taxes. The less money you pay in taxes the less bombs they can drop on innocent brown people.
**I should mention that I would never hold it against a fast food worker for any seeming unruliness, exasperation, sadness, anger, or despair. That’s a tough life, folks. Cut ’em some slack.